It has become a norm in society that consumers do not get and they do not even ask for an invoice, hereafter the invoice, from the sellers for the goods sold to them. This is a rampant scenario, especially in local “kirayana” stores, and the same has been normalized.
Sometimes it even seems a little strange to other people queuing in a store when someone asks the seller to provide them with an invoice for the goods. This happens because the consumers themselves are not sufficiently informed about their rights with regard to the goods sold to them.
Consumers have the right to be issued an invoice, by the seller, for the purchased goods and for the same, they even have the right to demand such an invoice from the seller in case he refuses to issue it. However, this act of consumers, in not asking for an invoice, is absolute negligence in its entirety on their part. In such a situation, consumers are simply sleeping on their legal right to demand an invoice and, for legal reasons, consumers become victims of unfair commercial practices, committed by certain unscrupulous sellers.
This consumer right to demand an invoice for the purchase of goods is protected by the Consumer Protection Act 2019. It is a statutory consumer right. Article 2 (9) (ii) of this legislation defines the term “consumer rights” and includes in its scope the right of consumers to be informed about the quality, quantity, standard, price of goods, etc by the seller with the objective of protecting consumers against “unfair commercial practices”.
An unfair trading practice is also defined in section 2 (47) of this legislation and can be understood in simplified terms as an unfair or deceptive trading practice on the part of the seller of the goods by which he intends to unfairly absorb benefits. of the transaction carried out by the consumer and therefore not issuing or refusing to issue an invoice for the goods sold to the customer is an unfair commercial practice under the law. To receive an invoice for goods purchased by consumers is their legal right and to issue it is a legal obligation of the seller of the goods.
It should also be noted that the seller must issue the consumer an original invoice (Pakka invoice) describing all the details contained therein, including the name of the store where the goods were purchased, the invoice number, the quantity and the price of the goods purchased, the maximum selling price of the product, the added taxes, etc. The store’s GST number, usually listed on the invoice as a GSTIN, should also be verified by the consumer. This is a unique 15-digit Goods and Services Tax identification number assigned to each GST registrant. An appropriate stamp of the store where the goods are purchased must also be shown on such an invoice. All these requirements should be noted vigilantly by consumers in order to exercise their legal right under the law and also to protect themselves from any instances of fraud or deception.
The advantages of receiving an invoice from the seller for the goods purchased are numerous. Since an invoice serves as proof for the goods purchased by the consumer, the consumer gets the possibility of proper maintenance of these goods by the seller as well as a guarantee attached to them. And in the event that these goods are defective in the future, the consumer has the right to approach the seller and can claim reimbursement entirely on the basis of the production of the invoice for these goods. Apart from this, a consumer can also take legal action against a seller for such defective goods, in case the latter refuses to refund the money to the former, solely on the basis of the production of the invoice. Not only that, through the invoice, a consumer can ensure that the seller has not sold him the goods exceeding the maximum retail price and if such an act has indeed been committed by the seller, the consumer can address to the consumer complaint forum to request compensation upon presentation of the invoice. Thus, the core of all the above analyzes is an invoice. Receiving an invoice from the seller is not only a consumer’s right but also their legal responsibility.
It should be understood that if a consumer does not request or receive an invoice, the seller absorbs all taxes paid by the consumer on the goods at the time of payment. Yes, it is so serious. An invoice for goods purchased, apart from other details, reflects and proves the taxes on those goods that are paid by the consumer to the government. However, what happens when a seller does not give a consumer an invoice for the goods sold or gives a “Kaccha invoice” is that all taxes paid by the consumer for the goods actually go into the pocket. of the first and therefore there is no evidence that the consumer purchased the goods and did not pay any taxes to the government. Thus, it becomes an easy way for tax evasion by some unscrupulous sellers who engage in such unfair business practices. Therefore, consumers need to be extra vigilant in these cases to safeguard their consumer rights as well as the government’s pocket.
If, however, in a situation where the seller refuses to issue an invoice to the consumer, thus infringing his legal right, the law of the country protects this consumer from being the victim of an unfair commercial practice by laying down in unequivocal terms certain provisions for the same. The aggrieved consumer may file a complaint with the Central Consumer Protection Authority constituted under Article 10 of the Law against Unfair Commercial Practice of the Seller of Goods to seek redress. Section 16 of this Act also empowers the District Collector, within his competence, to receive complaints from consumers regarding violation of consumer rights. The aggrieved consumer can also seize the Commissions for the redress of consumer disputes for the defense of his rights. These commissions have been constituted at the district, state and national levels under Sections 28, 42 and 53 respectively of the Act.
An online complaint can also be filed by consumers against such unfair business practices. The National Consumer Helpline (NCH) is a portal launched by the Government of India through the Department of Consumer Affairs as an integrated grievance mechanism, through which an aggrieved consumer can quickly seek redress for their violated consumer rights in logging on to its website which is consumerhelpline.gov.in.
Consumers are therefore expected to know and must know their rights and it is only when they are aware of them that these rights can be fully protected and preserved by law.
(The author is a lawyer and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in law at the University of Jammu)